In the fall of 2004 I was 23 and coming out of a short-lived relationship. It was a relationship where nothing horrible happened, but nevertheless it failed hard to the extent that a friend from Australia (who happened to be in Calgary at the time for his book tour), after being introduced to my then-nearly-ex-boyfriend (at a book signing in front of a room full of prospective readers), immediately declared loudly, “You need to treat her better!”

Yep.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I decided that was the single most excellent and epic example I would ever be able to point to of someone sticking up for me of their own free will, and that still holds true today. (Thank you, Adrian.)

But getting out of that relationship presented me with a problem: where was I going to live? At the time I had been sharing a place with Mr Didn’t Treat Me Better. Earlier that year I’d bought a brand new car and was basically at that point in life where I was ready to start doing other so-called “grown up” things…like having my own home, rather than being at some landlord’s mercy as a renter. Or moving back into my parents’ basement.